North Park Theological Seminary Announces New Financial Aid Program for Students
Aid program is for new students, current students' aid not affected
CHICAGO (March 23, 2012) – For Alicia Vela, qualifying for financial aid assistance is the reason she is a student preparing for ordained ministry at North Park Theological Seminary (NPTS), Chicago. The Rev. Brian A.K. McCutchen says without the financial aid he got from NPTS, he's not sure he would have been able attend any seminary.
Both are examples of how students' lives can be changed with the help of financial aid and scholarships to help them meet the costs of theological education. This month, North Park Theological Seminary announced a new financial aid program for students that will provide aid to even more students, as well as a more flexible framework that responds to changing needs of students today and developments in the delivery of courses, certificates, and degrees.
NPTS students currently enrolled and receiving financial aid will not be affected by the changes in the aid program. Academic scholarships, such as Nyvall Scholarships and Lund Scholarships, will remain as scholarships based on students' academic records. Needs-based grants will be available to students seeking degrees and professional certificates.
Key changes in the new financial aid program include:
- opening up Presidential Scholarships to both full- and part-time degree-seeking students preparing for vocational ministry in the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC). Scholarship amounts vary, with the most generous scholarships reserved for full-time main campus students.
- a new Mosaic Leadership Scholarship to support leaders with multicultural or multiethnic backgrounds seeking degrees. This scholarship may be combined with other scholarship funds, and all qualified students may be considered.
- a new Seminary Church Matching Grant Program, in which NPTS will match a church gift toward student tuition of up to $500 per semester.
- the Spiritual Direction Cohort Program, in which any student can apply for a needs-based grant or Church Matching Grant. Previously, aid was only available for ECC clergy.
Research into financial aid programs at other similar seminaries has shown that while tuition is very similar across institutions, the NPTS financial aid program "is more generous and comprehensive when compared to other schools," said the Rev. Mark Olson, dean of enrollment and director of church relations, North Park University. "The result is an opportunity for students to study and personally engage with professors with national and even international reputations for exceptional biblical and theological scholarship."
Students, present and past, speak highly of their experiences at NPTS, opportunities they would not have had without generous and meaningful financial aid that benefited them. Vela, a second-year master of divinity student from Arvada, Colo., and McCutchen, now serving as camp director, Frontier Ranch, Mission Springs, Calif., qualified for prestigious Presidential Scholarships at NPTS.
Vela is president of the NPTS student association, and wants to become a youth pastor in a church setting after she completes her degree. "It's important for me to be educated at a school that is so gender-inclusive, and is so empowering of women in ministry. All of my professors are really encouraging and helping me to find my voice as a pastor," she said in an interview. To Vela "financial aid is invaluable" in helping her achieve her career goals.
"This school has a lot to offer. Biblical scholars teach us, and leaders in fields of ministry teach us. (We're) able to have that experience because of financial aid," she added. Her home congregation is Christ Community Covenant Church, Arvada.
McCutchen, a member of Community Covenant Church, Santa Cruz, Calif., earned a master of divinity from NPTS in 2007. "I felt a call to ministry in a broad sense," he said. But high costs at other seminaries made it difficult to for him to think about theological education – until his pastor and his father-in-law, an ECC pastor, both encouraged him to consider NPTS.
While at NPTS, McCutchen worked in University departments and offices as part of the service requirement of his scholarship. Today he is part of an ECC-affiliated program that hosts groups such as science students from local schools during the week, and hosts church groups and provides programs for them on weekends. McCutchen is now hiring college students, preparing Bible study curricula, and recruiting speakers for Frontier Ranch's busy summer program.
NPTS offers generous financial aid to students because of the ECC's financial commitment to the University, and the support of donors, particularly to the seminary annual fund, and endowment-based revenue.
McCutchen said he appreciates the ECC commitment to his seminary education. "I want to stay a part of this denomination. I work with college students, and I've encouraged a lot of them to look into the University and the Seminary," he said.
North Park Theological Seminary is the graduate theological school of North Park University, Chicago, and of the Chicago-based Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC).
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